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NST Online: Sports

Devan: Perak are dangerous

Posted: 14 Apr 2011 08:47 AM PDT

By Devinder Singh

 Perak’s Md Fazrul Hazli scores past Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat during their Super League match on Tuesday. Perak won 4-0.

Perak's Md Fazrul Hazli scores past Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat during their Super League match on Tuesday. Perak won 4-0.

PERAK are scaring the daylights out of Selangor ahead of their Super League top-of-the-table clash in Shah Alam tomorrow after Norizan Bakar's men boosted their title credentials with a 4-0 rout of Kelantan on Tuesday.

Although Selangor approach the match with some trepidation, coach K. Devan has urged his players to go all out for victory to create breathing space in a congested league table.

Selangor lead Perak by one point although they could be displaced tonight if Terengganu beat Felda United in Kuala Terengganu.

"You have to respect what Perak have achieved so far.

"While I expected Perak to do better than what they did last season, nobody would have thought they would be in the top three," said Devan, clearly impressed by Perak, yesterday.

"Looking at the last result, when they beat Kelantan 4-0, I think they are scaring everybody.

"I watched the match on television and they are a compact team with players who work hard.

"Looking at the statistics, they have the best defensive record in the league.

"Also Akmal Rizal (Ahmad Rakhli) is playing much better this season and he's been scoring in almost every game for them."

Akmal, who has scored 10 goals in all competitions, will need to be marked closely and that task will fall to Khairul Anuar Baharom and Nasriq Baharom, who comes in for the suspended Yosri Derma Raju.

Amri Yahyah returns after missing the 1-0 win over Felda through suspension but Hardi Jaafar is a doubt after picking up an injury.

"We will have to raise our game against Perak because if we just play our normal game, it is going to be very tough," said Devan.

"I've told my boys that they have to be sharp in front of goal and take every opportunity that comes.

"We will have Amri, Nasriq and Bunyamin (Umar) available but Yosri is suspended and Hardi is injured."

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Nadal finding his feet on clay

Posted: 14 Apr 2011 08:24 AM PDT

MONACO: Rafael Nadal began his bid for a seventh straight Monte Carlo Masters title with a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 win over Jarkko Nieminen on Wednesday.

The top-ranked Spaniard, who next faces Richard Gasquet, did not face a single break point against the Finn and extended his winning record at the clay-court tournament to 33 matches.

"Today was a positive start," the 24-year-old Nadal said. "I think I played better than what I practiced the last days, so that's always positive."

A year-ending loss to Roger Federer in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals, and consecutive losses to Novak Djokovic in recent Masters finals at the Sony Ericsson Open and BNP Paribas Open mean Nadal has not won anything since the Japan Open.

Still, Nadal remains the big favourite to clinch his 44th career title, and his 19th Masters tournament, even though he said he needs a bit more time to get his feeling back on clay.

"I think I needed a few more days. (It) is just the first match. (It) is positive the way I played with the forehand," he said.

"(It) was positive the way that my serve worked. It wasn't bad. I have to play a little bit more aggressive with the backhand."

Nadal remains unbeaten on clay since losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open two years ago.

Nadal was undefeated on clay last year, winning two other Masters titles in Rome and Madrid, and his fifth French Open.

Nadal is 7-0 against Gasquet and beat him in the 2005 semi-finals on the way to his first Monte Carlo title.

Third-seeded Andy Murray finally won a match, beating Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4.

The 23-year-old Murray had failed to win a set since losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open final, going out early in Rotterdam and at the Masters tournaments in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne.

"I played great, dominated the match from the second, third game. (I) was a wee bit tentative towards the end, which I think is probably natural," Murray said.

"I hit the ball really well, made him do a lot of running, was able to dictate a lot of points with my forehand -- especially from the first and second shot in the rally."

Murray's early exit from Key Biscayne meant he had he had more time to prepare for the clay-court season, and the Briton clearly felt the benefits.

"(I) hit the ball really clean, wasn't mis-hitting anything, moved really well.

"I like clay. I think I can have good results on it If I play like I did," said Murray, who has never been beyond the quarter-finals of the French Open.

Murray next plays 16th-seeded Gilles Simon of France, who defeated Albert Montanes of Spain 6-3, 6-4.

Also, fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain easily beat Feliciano Lopez 6-2, 6-0, and No 8 Gael Monfils of France defeated Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 7-5, 6-2.

Ferrer, who next meets big-serving Milos Raonic of Canada, broke his opponent's serve five times, while Lopez had six double-faults.

Seventh-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria, No 9 Nicolas Almagro of Spain, No 11 Viktor Troicki of Serbia and No 15 Marin Cilic of Croatia and also advanced to the third round.

Melzer defeated Robin Haase of the Netherlands 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, Almagro laboured to beat Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina 6-7 (6), 7-5, 7-6 (10) and Troicki beat Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

Cilic was leading Pere Riba 5-2 when the Spaniard retired. He next faces 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer. -- AP

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